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Alice 3 and Computer Programming Literacy
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Exclamation Alice 3 and Computer Programming Literacy - 06-05-2009, 01:08 AM

I recently downloaded the 3.0 Beta version of Alice and, although the new interface is welcome (modulo all the bugs), I am very concerned about the appropriateness of this version for introducing non-CS majors to computer programming. I know Alice is targeted to CS majors, but until version 2.2 I have been able to teach programming to non-CS majors without making any references to Java or any other programming language.

Never mind all the features in 2.2 currently not available in 3.0 (poses, billboards, camera controls, quad view, etc), in this version, Java is everywhere! So much so that, for me, it gets in the way. Again, I know that Alice is supposed to help CS students to transition to Java, but until this version it was not that obvious...and I liked that.

On the other hand, I know Sun is backing the Alice project now, but why stop at Java? I wish I could have the interface of version of 2.2 and the ability of "selecting" or "configuring" which OOP language you want Alice to help you transition to. If you think about it, most structured and OOP languages share the same set of core control structures: so whether is "for i in range(5):" (Python) or "for(i=0;i<5;i++)" (C/C++/C#/Java/...), they repeat their loop bodies 5 times. It would be great if Alice had a module to "add" a new programming language and, in it, map each one of the Alice tiles to the corresponding statements in this new language.

I appreciate the new interface in Alice in 3.0, but if you could just add the EA models (plus a couple more controls for manipulating objects) to version 2.2 , call it 2.6, it would be an excellent version to introduce anyone to computer programming.

Any thoughts, advise?

Last edited by ttkrakus; 06-05-2009 at 01:11 AM.
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